It's been more than 500 days since Flashing Guy last won, but a perfect draw and a tough-as-teak last-start effort give him the look of a rock-solid banker in the anchor leg of tomorrow night's Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
A HK$700,000-plus jackpot should result in a bigger than usual dividend and the Class Four final leg over 1,000m seems tailor made for Flashing Guy.
Manfred Man Ka-leung's six-year-old last won on July 6, 2011, in the same grade, course and distance - carrying top weight. He spent most of last season languishing in Class Three, but hasn't ran a bad race since dropping in grade at the end of last term and has been particularly solid over the shortest trip.
Flashing Guy has finished worse than fourth only once in six starts this season and that was when checked early and blocked late two starts back. Last start, Andreas Suborics, who rides again tomorrow night, gambled on pressing forward from gate eight and was stuck three wide facing the breeze, right up on the speed. Even after a horrid run, Flashing Guy showed plenty of fight to hang on for second.
This time he drops into barrier two, which is crucial on the "C" course, and should be able to sit right in behind a solid tempo.
Last start it was Vintage Hussler - a Gary Ng Tik-keung horse dropping in grade with Douglas Whyte aboard - that beat Flashing Guy home. It's the same combination and set of circumstances this time with Lucky Red - his recent form looks terrible, but rapid improvement would not surprise as he comes back to Class Four.
Derek Cruz brings Well Fit (Tye Angland) back to the city track and he has the look of a horse that could be sparked by the change of scenery. His form has been excellent up the straight at Sha Tin and barrier six is tricky but not completely poison. Consider him as a second banker if looking to save.
Zac Purton climbs on Call Me Achiever for the first time and gets gate one. Forget his last run, the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained chestnut has the early pace to take advantage of the draw and looks like a horse that will go higher.
Others to consider are D Day Super (Olivier Doleuze) and Kowloon East King (Umberto Rispoli).
In the opening leg, David Hall has gone to side winkers for the first time on Super Tiger (Brett Prebble) and the five-year-old comes back to what looks his best track and distance - 1,650m.
Play Super Tiger as banker in a race where a number of runners seem tempo influences, but have question marks on their ability to run the trip. Hinyuen Paladin (Alvin Ng Ka-chun) is top of that list. He is a risk, jumping from 1,200m, but has had the required racing and can figure.
Others to consider are Sure Champ (Tim Clark), Horseshoe Fortune (Terry Wong Chi-wai) and Supreme Genki (Matthew Chadwick).
The middle pin provides some quality, with a nine-horse field contesting the Happy Valley Trophy.
Go hard at it with just four picks and no banker - starting with the two topweights, Arrived Ahead (Ben So Tik-hung) and Flying Colours (Angland). Both drop sharply in grade and find their best trip here.
The other two to include - El Zonda and Charles The Great - have somewhat misleading upward arrows next to their names, as they have been mixing it in some pretty tough company.
El Zonda (Chadwick) made his name early in his career as a Happy Valley specialist but has since burst to life on the bigger track. Barrier one gives him the look of a banker if you are looking for one.
Charles The Great (Prebble) needs them to run along, which they should, and could easily figure from gate three.
Read Michael Cox's blog - Derby madness about to descend. Go to: http://www.scmp.com/author/michael-cox-0